Top 7 Reasons to Run a Project Retrospective

Top 7 Reasons to Run a Project Retrospective
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A Project Retrospective Should Help the Team and the Business
Research conducted in by the Wharton School, Cornell, and the University of Colorado, found that prospective hindsight — imagining that an event has already occurred —increases the ability to correctly identify reasons for future outcomes by 30%.

So wouldn’t it be fair to assume that a project retrospective, or project post mortem, done right, should improve future project outcomes by 30%?

We think so.

Top 7 Reasons to Run a Project Retrospective
Let’s start with the top reasons our clients run a project retrospective:

  1. Set Up Future Projects for Success
    Most leaders or project sponsors want to run a project retrospective to increase the odds that future projects and future project teams are set up for success. This often happens after a major project failure.
  2. Clarify Where Things Stand
    Often project teams just need to get on the same page about the current situation. Do not underestimate the power of current state analysis during times of change and complexity.
  3. Provide a Safe Forum for People to Be Heard
    In general, people long to fit in, to feel appreciated, to be understood, and to connect with people on their project team. Especially after a long, challenging, and complex project, a project retrospective is a great way to acknowledge contributions and hear team members.
  4. Come to Closure
    While different people need different levels of closure for different reasons, the psychology of closure tells us that it is not easy to let go of something that was once important – especially if the project ended poorly or if project team members will lose turf, power, or status at the end of the project. Individual and team closure after a high stress project is a great starting point.
  5. Identify Targeted Areas of Project Improvement
    The more complex the project, the more project best practices and proven methodologies will help. Many leaders use a project retrospective to encourage continuous learning and continuous improvement as part of promoting a high performance culture.
  6. Improve Project Risk Management
    Especially for highly visible and perilous projects, leaders like to use project retrospectives to identify and manage project risks before, during, and after their projects.
  7. Recalibrate Current Projects
    Smart project leaders incorporate project retrospectives into each key project tollgate or milestone to increase transparency, accountability, focus, clarity, and team alignment.

The Bottom Line
Reviewing what went well, what should be improved, and how to do things better next time should be an integral part of each and every project management methodology. Do you invest the time required to continuously improve?

To learn more about how to improve project success, download The Top 10 Project Management Mistakes and How to Prevent Them from Destroying Your Next Project

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